Title. Emergency department nurses’ understanding and experiences of implementing discharge planning.
Aim. This paper is a report of a study conducted to describe emergency department nurses’ understanding and experiences of implementing discharge planning.
Background. Discharge planning in the emergency department is an important issue because of increased healthcare costs and greater emphasis on continuity of care. When executed as a collaborative process involving a multi-disciplinary team with the patient and family, discharge planning provides continuity of care for patients, less demand on hospitals, improvement in community services and in the services of other healthcare organizations.
Method. The qualitative approach of phenomenography was used in this study. Thirty-two emergency department nurses were recruited between July and September 2005. Semi-structured interviews were conducted.
Findings. From interviewees’ descriptions of implementing discharge planning, six categories were established: implementing discharge planning as ‘getting rid of my patients’, completing routines, being involved in patient education, professionally accountable practice, autonomous practice and demonstrating professional emergency department nursing care. The referential meaning of implementing discharge planning ‘in the outcome space’ was the professional commitment to emergency department provision of effective discharge services.
Conclusion. The results of this research contribute to knowledge of emergency department nurses’ experience in the implementation of the discharge planning process. Key requirements for the provision of manageable discharge services both in Taiwan and worldwide highlighted by this study include adequate workloads, sufficient time, clear policies and standards of discharge planning and enhancement of professional commitment.